When I Was a Mom For a Week(ish)

When I am not imagining myself as a Nazi war criminal bounty hunter, I envision myself as the ultimate parent. In this epic fantasy, I am a firm, yet tender guardian, leading my flock like a fierce and noble Viking matron who would never stoop so low as to bait their good behavior.


Recently, I discovered that dream is about a likely to happen as finding a Nazi war criminal still alive. I was a mom for a week-ish to my sister’s three little ones, and during that brief time, all my lofty intentions of chivalrous parenting went where all dreams go to die: away from Pinterest. Perhaps someday when my own children are grown ups and still running around like savages, I will show them my swooning “Kids … Someday”  Pinterest board and sheepishly murmur, “It’s the thought that counts, right?”


My future offspring, please accept my advance apology for bribing your good behavior with sweets and movies. I’ll make you cupcakes if you promise to not resent me for it.

Lie #1: My kids will never watch TV

Because … wait for it … my babies will be soooo busy feasting on the glories of Dickens and Tolstoy (in the original Russian) at the venerable age of 5 they won’t have time for TV.

Who am I kidding. Kids love fart jokes, defacing walls with crayons and poop and will be hypnotized by anything that moves on a screen.


The reality is that everyday I was One-Weekish Mom my nephews and niece watched a movie, and honestly, I might have watched it with them too. I have to be able to relate to them, right?

Or perhaps I am making up for all those deprived childhood years of mine, filled with the horrors of books, imagination and the great outdoors. What was my mom thinking??!

Lie #2: They will only listen to classical music

Mozart, Vivaldi, Beethoven … these prodigious names grace my childrens’ early lexicons, as their little souls soar on the raptures of symphonies and complex melodies.

Noooooope. Babies love love love the mind-numbing repetition of Bob the Builder. I discovered that If you combine Lie #1 with Lie #2 and put in a Bob the Builder movie for them, you can create a magical window of time to catch up on Downton Abby. Errr … I mean … catch up on your Mozart …


Lie #3: They will eat like princely rabbits

A health-freak of the highest nature, all things green, organic and fermented appear on my fantasy diet plan for my future brood. But unless I marry Peter Rabbit, I have a sinking feeling that my childrens’ guts will be host to fodder more along the lines of hot dogs, popsicles and ice cream. Hey, all those things (note I said ‘things’, not ‘foods’) can be green and organic too, right?


The worst part of this revelation? My sister’s kids are angels. And I still spoiled them. Banking on the sure likelihood that my offspring will be monsters, I better sign up for a Costco membership now so I can start stocking up on bulk popsicles.

Excuse Me, Insomnia! I Was Trying to Sleep!

You would think after practicing the art of snooze our whole lives, we’d all be experts at sleeping. Kinda like breathing. Should come naturally, right? Yet here we are, a nation obsessed with zombies, while it is actually we who are the living dead, bleary-eyed and kept semi-cognizant only by Starbucks. I say this in a slight tone of condescension, as I have always been caffeine-free. Superiority over my fellow humans (valiantly resisting the urge here to make a ‘human bean’ joke) is my energy boost.

Slight detour:

coffee history

End detour. Back to not sleeping.

Anxiety seems to have taken the modern circadian rhythm hostage. Having conquered the flimsy foes of ages past – cold, hunger, plague and Mongols – the civilized Western man wrestles with new pestilences of domesticated terror. In a horrifying world of forgotten wi-fi passwords, no time to clean the second garage, and dated wall paper, it’s a miracle any of us snooze at all!

modern anxieties

As with most problems, my nocturnal struggles can be blamed on the Russians. God bless their warm Slavic hearts, but if that nation didn’t exist, I wouldn’t be forced to observe the same napping schedule as a newborn baby.

Years ago, I went on a mission trip to the Motherland with a group from my church. The night before departure, I was so jittery and excited I didn’t sleep a wink. Terror that my flimsy American immune system wouldn’t be able to withstand the rigors of fatigue, traveling, and the ecstasy of being in Dostoevsky’s homeland sauntered over into the next night, when I also didn’t sleep.

flight status

I had worked SO hard at memorizing my two, short Russian phrases that it was unfair I didn’t know the one I really needed communicate: “Where do you keep the sleeping pills, comrade?”

Desperate to sleep, I finally procured a blessed little bottle of drugs with an indecipherable label. For all I know, they could have been old KGB interrogation pills or orangutan tranquilizer, but by the Czar, they worked! Unfortunately, I was unable to smuggle more of the drugs home. All I returned with were a few dried specks of delicious borscht (a pretty purple soup) on my traveling garb. Oh, and a riveting fear of the night. The insomnia bug had impertinently made itself an permanent lodger in my psyche.

russian memories

After that fateful trip, I tried everything: Nyquill, melatonin, prescription sleeping pills (this time with legible labels), meditation, hypnosis, alcohol, exercise, aromatherapy, bribing God, etc.

bribing God2

Nothing would break the cycle of fear that kept me up in the eternal night. Each lonely hour separated me from the rest of humanity, as they selfishly slumbered on restoring brain cells. Then just when I thought I was about to explode from fatigue, the sun would peak over the horizon and as if on cue, I would fall blissfully asleep.

And then my alarm would go off 10 minutes later.

alarm clock

I know it’s not the worst problem in the world, but c’mon. It’s pretty gross.

Reprieve finally sailed in one year later, on the pages of a prosaic economic book. Even my rapturous adoration of all things fiscal withered when I callously bombarded it with determinants of demand, circular flow of goods, and sundry other spicy concepts. Relentlessly, I would read for hours, until at last my senses capitulated and I drifted off to my dreamland of blimp-sized Oreos, ever-ripe donut trees and no dogs. Whoever said money can’t make you happy?? Lots of people, and they are all wrong.


With meticulous zeal, I still have to coddle my bedtime environment. Mentally, I can’t hear any exciting or disturbing news before retiring, still have to read for an hour, and the following day must be devoid of alarm clocks, deadlines, and performances in order for me to fall asleep. Physically, it must be pitch black, completely silent and devoid of other homo sapiens. Even if the other humans are as quiet as silence, I can hear their very EXISTENCE.


We all have little crosses we must bear through life, and perhaps this is one of mine. Well, as my French ancestors would nasally quote through bites of baguette, “C’est la vive!”

Look it up. I’m too tired to translate.

How to Party … When You Hate Partying

I feel guilty for being an introvert. Mainly because in being so, I frequently deprive the world of the pleasure of my company. It’s not that I hate people; it’s just that I am driven by a strict genetic law: no more than two social activities a week, and that includes work, which happens four times a week.

So I either scorn the dictates of my genetic wiring (that sounds dangerous, in a science-y way) or quit my job. I might start taking donations from friends so I can do the latter without becoming a burden to our darling government.


Before we go any further, let me dash to pieces a common misconception surrounding introverts: being an introvert does not mean one is an awkward and unsociable mutant. (I got that from being home schooled.) Much to my dismay, brooder, egoist, and narcissist are included in a list of synonyms for introvert. This is clearly the result of a fallacious extrovert conspiracy, who comprise a hefty 70% of the population and most likely wield control over online dictionaries. Hence the more flattering synonyms of gregarious and life of the party for extrovert.


In reality, the distinguishing difference between the two personality types is that extroverts derive energy from large groups, while introverts are energized from smaller gatherings or solitude. Here’s another way to look at it: introverts are so deliciously interesting and exciting that we need the company of no one save ourselves.


So back to parties. As any soldier knows, one doesn’t waltz into a battle field unarmed. After 28 years of rocking the introvertness, I’ve perfected the art of partying like the Amish have perfected technology.

1. Bring a craft to parties

Even the most erudite of minds run out of things to say; even the most bountiful food spread will eventually be pillaged clean. When minds and mouths are empty, hands must be full! I’ve taken to bringing crafts to gatherings (no, I don’t socialize exclusively in nursing homes). Awkward silences are filled with the industrious clicking of my needles and the design of my project proves an ever-fresh inspiration for flagging conversations.

Also, to my eternal surprise, it would appear my bad-ass image has only been enhanced by the introduction of my Batman cross stitch project into social circles.


2. Help with clean up

This is a win-win. You avoid banal conversation AND earn points for being helpful. If equipped to do so, listen to an audio book while cleaning and accrue additional points for being intellectual. Make sure to wear a slightly-pained, ecstatic expression, as if your brain is physically growing … and you like it.


3. Hide in the bathroom

Make sure you have a book or a smart phone with which to occupy yourself during the stake out. Bring snacks in case the cloistering lasts longer than 10 minutes.


4. Stage a phone call during the party

Make it sound like you’re invited to another party that’s more awesome than the one you’re currently at. Throw in key terms like ‘9pm end time’ ‘unlimited kale chips’ ‘I can’t hear you because that classical music is so loud’ ‘want me to bring my cross stitching?’ etc. Make sure you prep your mom beforehand so she doesn’t blow your cover.


5. Dehumanize fellow partiers

If you’re the nervous sort and are terrified of making conversation, the customary advice of imagining people naked doesn’t ease the agitation. Either you end up frothing with jealousy or are horrified at the vision, and then things just get more awkward. Try imagining them as your favorite dessert instead.


6. Appoint yourself as party photographer

Everyone wants their picture taken! You won’t get bored, you can hop from group to group and you’ll have digital blackmail for future use.


7. Injure yourself to escape the party

As a last resort to liberate yourself from an irredeemable gala, fake an injury. If the crowd isn’t buying it, you might have to injure one of your fellow partiers, and then offer to take them to the doctor. Win points for helpfulness again and make an early exit.


In all seriousness, thoughtful investigation of your personality type is a fascinating and useful practice, as it simultaneously liberates you from the pressure to be someone you’re not, and also reveals inherent weaknesses you can correct before becoming a monster.

Besides, who doesn’t love studying themselves more, right?

Texting: The Good and the Bad

A certain physiological ailment – which is fast becoming a pandemic in modern society – invades my body whenever I make a phone call. Sweaty palms, butterflies in the stomach, a suddenly scratchy voice and the inability to remember my name are the distinguishing symptoms of this malady.


And no, this is doesn’t occur just when I return that cute boy’s call. It strikes even when I phone in to pay a bill. Yes, I am pathetic enough to get nervous when asking people to take my money. What if my money isn’t good enough for them??! What if I stutter?!! I couldn’t bear it if a complete stranger knew what a loser I am!

As such, it is my staunch belief that phone calls should only be used in the most dire situations, such as calling 911 to test if your phone works or getting the number for the police department. Aside from that, texting suffices for all communication needs.


However, as with all blessings, there are downsides to texting. For your perusal, the pros and cons of electronic messaging:










Facebook vs Instagram

facebook vs instagram

facebook title

facebook deep quote

facebook mysterious

facebook books

facebook events

facebook stalking

facebook boring status

facebook current events

facebook relationships

instgram title

instagram photography

instagram filters

instagram hashtags

instagram filters

instagram tagged photo

I know I gave Facebook more stage time, so this is not a fair comparison. But it’s been half an hour since I’ve had my social media fix, so I need to get back to it. It is of DESPERATE importance that I see how many comments I received on my last status, who is in a relationship with whom and who liked what picture.

I claim I don’t do drugs, but maybe … just maybe …

How to Lose Your Dignity (In a Corn Maze)

Fall is my favorite time of year, with the unfortunate fact that nestled soundly in its center is Halloween, my least favorite holiday.

To make it to my Top 5 Holidays List, a celebration must consist of at least all of these:

  • lying to children
  • divisive religious overtones
  • figgy pudding
  • fat snowmen
  • enough nostalgia to raise the dead

Yep, you guessed it: Christmas is in my top holiday slots – all five of them. Which is why I play Christmas music in August, much to the delight of my co-workers.

Christmas Music in August

Conversely, to land in my Worst 5 Holiday List, the joyous occasion must either be:

  • Halloween
  • Halloween
  • Halloween
  • Halloween
  • or Halloween

Every year, when October 31st rolls around, I dream of turning into a Jehovah’s Witness just for one day so I can bypass the holiday.

Jehovah's Witness Plans

Now, if we all dressed up as Frosty the Snowman and knocked on doors to receive homemade cookies from jolly, plump housewives, I’d say: scoot your merry butt over, Christmas Slot #5! You have competition.

But that isn’t what happens. The ghoulish holiday seems to don itself with an increasingly dreary ensemble: ashen apparitions, ghastly ghosts, wicked witches, and malignant monsters. Call me old-fashioned (I won’t be offended, because Christmas is old-fashioned, so it must be awesome), but the relishing of gross & scary things doesn’t measure up to my idea of a good time.

However, since I just maligned the treasured holiday of many, I will now proceed to mock myself, and then we’ll be even. Granted, Halloween scares me, but just about everything does.  The dark scares me, MSG scares me, ducks in groups scare me.

Scariest Things

To illustrate my remarkable faintheartedness: last year my equally-timorious friend Cupcake (her real name is Holly, but I used an alias to preserve privacy) and I visited a haunted corn maze. Please do keep in mind that we were 27 & 26 years of age, which is certainly not old enough to be out traipsing in the dark by ourselves. Trembling with fear, we ventured into the muddy, dark maze, nerves taut.



So far, so good.


… “boo.”

First ScareSecond Scare

No, those were not the cries of one in mortal danger of life and limb. They were the pathetic pleas emitting from us when a teenager making minimum wage, dressed in sweat pants and a cheap plastic mask, jumped out of the corn stalks and blandly yelled ‘boo.’ Slipping and sliding in the muddy chaos, we ran away like squealing, blind little pigs, with me dragging the terrified Cupcake in my cowardly wake. This hysterical behavior of course only motivated him to chase us more.

He finally left, and I was still alive, which was great, because I really want kids someday. As the echoes of our screams faded off in the distance, we crept forward. A deceptive calm cloaked the field.


Even my frazzled mental state, I recognized that a chain saw is not a common corn shucking tool, so once again we broke into a mad sprint, clawing blindly through the maze to escape the predator’s relentless weapon.

This dumped us right into the path of a gruesome lady, ghost-white and draped in tatters. Moaning, she wailed in horrifying tones, “I am going to eat your bones! I want your soooooouulsssss!”

After Bone-Eating-Soul-Stealing Lady, we were so traumatized that we resorted to the only mature option available: walk the remainder of the maze in the shadow of a small, plump boy, assuming that even fiends wouldn’t prey on a child. Perhaps we lost some dignity points here, but let’s be honest, there wasn’t much left to lose at this point.

This year, I will be celebrating Halloween night with a Christmas party. Sorry, Small Plump Boy – you’re on your own!

My Sweetest Foe

You know how it has been said keep your friends close, but your enemies even closer? That adage has ruled the state of my gut for years. Machiavelli, good sir – my doctor wants to smack you soundly with his stethoscope.


The battle over sugar started when I was a wee wisp of a girl. My dear mother, the ever-vigilant guardian of our guts, forbade any processed foods and sugary treats from crossing our threshold. ‘Junk food’ for us were the occasional little packets of fruit snacks and Cheerios.

Children's Story

(I have since surpassed my mother as a health freak. It’s her fault I can’t eat with friends without pointing out at least one cancer-inducing ingredient in their food. It’s a wonder I have any friends at all.)

Dining Out

With daily reinforcement of healthy eating habits and the rationale behind them, one would presume I avoided sugar like a slug eludes salt. Unfortunately, little girls care less about future risk of diabetes and more about how to satiate the ever-present and gnawing ache to consume sugar that is the curse of all women. diabetes

Embracing Machiavelli’s advice long before I was old enough to read his prose, I devised a battle plan with the cunning and knack of a 5-star general:

Battle Step One

Battle Step Two

As Quiet Time draps the house in contented silence, I slip down the steps, making sure to avoid all those creaky spots. With nervous energy in every bated breath, my guilty hands firmly and adroitly pack the measuring cup solid with golden brown treasure. Back in my room, I gleefully scoop away at my plundered goods, safely hidden behind the screen of my book.

Stolen Sugar

(Mom, if you are reading this, I apologize, but you really should have hidden the sugar better!)

Fast forward to adulthood. I’m 18, working at Safeway and presumably sagacious enough to have a say in who should run the country. In retrospect, I postulate that one who cannot maintain proper order in their gut should have no voice in who manages the order of a nation. Perhaps a gut bacteria test at all polling stations?


Anyway, back to my intestines. Working in the produce department, one would think daily immersion in this herbaceous haven would foster a healthy gut. Let me dispel this misconception with a quick peek into the belly (pun not intended, then intended upon recognition) of the Safeway machine. In the dark and cavernous back room of every store, there towers a mountain of compost with enough day-old donuts to feed the nation of Laos.


Strictly mandated by store policy not to pilfer the pile, I subordinated myself to the Higher Law of Waste Not and would shovel up to 5 donuts successively in my little greedy mouth. One of my job duties was to clean up, and how I excelled at that!


10 years later, my thieving antics no longer graced the halls of Safeway, but I was still robbing myself of health. Armed with a more mature awareness of my lack of self control, I instituted an effective sabotage plan to protect myself from myself. Buy a pack of Mint Fudge-Covered Oreos, dump half of them into my ravenous mouth, and promptly throw the remainder away. Not above excavating food out of the trash, I would seal the deal with a generous dumping of water over the cookies. Even my rapacious appetite balks at soggy cookies.


Thus the war raged for years. Even the most hearty gut can’t withstand a siege longer than the two World Wars combined. Youth and vitality begrudgingly capitulated under the cumulative weight of age, multiple surgeries and poor diet, and I developed my own post-traumatic stress disorder, lovingly labeled The Sugar Coma. A short 15 minutes after ingesting a sugary delicacy, my pulse starts to slow, my eyelids droop, and overall cognitive function comes to a grinding halt.

Sugar Coma

Recently, I discovered I am officially allergic to sugar. I didn’t even know that was possible! It’s like being allergic to … happiness. Secretly, though, I am elated to be forced to give up the battle with sugar. It’s similar to playing a chess game you know you aren’t going to win, but just can’t stand admitting defeat. Then a small child knocks the board over and you can confidently assert that you were so close to winning, if only you had a few more turns!


So now another battle commences, one to regain control of my gut. And this time, Machiavelli isn’t my war advisor.

I Hated Sports, Until …

Well, to be honest, I don’t hate sports. It’s just that my body hates sports.

Don’t get the wrong impression: I can do lots of awesome things with my body, such as raise one eyebrow, touch my nose with my tongue and write with my toes. Yep, I am that talented. But before you ask for a toe-penned autograph, understand this sad fact: it would be easier to herd Palestinians and Israelis together for a cup of tea than to get me to catch a ball.

Fortunately, an auspicious call of fate summoned my family to Portland, OR, where spandex-clad men are more likely to be a bicyclists than football players. In this green utopia, hiking, biking and running are all revered as superior forms of athletic activity. Oh, you blessed hipsters who reject conventional, institutionalized sports! Thanks to you, even yoga has become an accepted recreational activity. My awkward limbs thank you.

But this was all before I attended the Special Olympics. That marvelous organization has forever transformed my outlook on traditional sports.

Particularly altered is my attitude toward baseball, which was previously #1 on my list of Easy & Patriotic Ways to Kill Oneself By Boredom. I understand it is practically treason to malign the iconic American sport, but watching plump men in tight clothing loll around … spit on the ground …  stomp the ground … signal the catcher … position the feet … ready the ball … munch something gross in their cheeks … debate over what to do next … wind the bat … is enough mind-numbing tedium to slay even those with the fiercest desire to live.

But back to baseball, where I am barely clinging on to life. If by some miracle I manage to stay awake for the first few innings, I can entertain myself through the remainder by counting the number of new freckles I develop during the game, comparing the lengths of my fingernail cuticles or dreaming about how much more interesting it would be to listen to someone talk in depth about a TV show I’ve never watched.

Thankfully, only the pros are boring. Watch a Special Olympics game, and I guarantee your jaw will ache not from yawning, but with unfettered laughter & delight.

Smitten from the first moment, it was as if I had stepped into a different world. There, most everyone is hampered by a mental or physical impediment, yet simultaneously are free to be exactly who they are. Unfettered by the need to impress, they exist liberated from the tyrants of beauty, wit, intelligence and success that the rest of us bow to. How refreshing it was to escape the charade of typical adult interactions, where so many words are mere shadows of our true feelings!

This raw display of emotion makes for exceedingly entertaining games. While Special Olympic athletes hit more balls than the pros do, they still miss quite a few. One young fellow upon hitting a pitch, neglected to run to first base and instead began pumping his arms up and down in excitement, ran in circles, and gave his coach a huge hug. His joy simply could not wait!

And oh, the dance party. I’ve been clubbing, swing dancing, ballroom dancing – in different states, in luxurious venues, with a variety of handsome men (that sentence was intended to make my life sound cooler than it really is). This celebration outshone every single one of them. In an open field in the cool, summer twilight,  a huge crowd of sweaty Special Olympics kids danced their hearts out. Not one of them (especially me) will ever make it on Dancing With the Stars, yet they all moved with such genuine joy and enthusiasm that I am convinced the very stars above us danced with delight.

What an honor it was to rejoice with ones so pure of heart! I left those games with a flame of joy as large as the Olympic torch shining brightly in my heart – it was if my soul had been hugged over and over again. With a myriad of mental and physical advantages, I was reminded by these ‘disabled’ ones that our value isn’t tied to skills or accomplishments, but to the very essence of our being. Every human is the temple of precious and worthy soul, whether they play in the regular Olympics, Special Olympics … or can do neither, like me.

I encourage you today to find someone who needs love, and give it wholeheartedly. It is far more rewarding than even hitting a home run … not that I would know 🙂

Why My Mom Thinks I’ll Never Get Married

“Heidi, why do you always burn the cookies?”

Well, I don’t every time. But in the eyes of  the 5-yr old I live with, enough crisp barely-edibles have emerged from my oven for her to doubt my culinary skills and pose the question.

Oh, did I mention she is 5? And I am 28? I don’t recall including ‘shaming myself in front of a kid 23 years younger than me‘ in my life plan, but I bet a burnt cookie that the British didn’t plan on getting whipped by the rag-tag American rebels. Life is full of unsavory surprises.

It happened one evening when I was babysitting Karis and her 3-yr old brother Titus. We had already tapped out the standard babysitting activities: hide & go seek, story time, arguing over which Thomas the Tank Engine movie to watch. (It is surprisingly difficult to choose between mind-numbingly boring and mind-numbingly boring.)

With an hour left until bed time, I decided a quick batch of cookies would be an easy time filler and secure me their love. No, I am not above bribing children. It is good preparation for their adult lives.

As Thomas the Tank Engine had just promised me that things always work out perfectly in life, you will imagine my shock when upon checking the cookies half-way through, I beheld what resembled a brown molten lava flow. Melding into one another, the nine cookies had lost all individuality as they bubbled and slithered like a gooey primordial mass over the side of the cookie sheet and on to the oven floor.

Shamefacedly, I presented the ooze to the kids. I’ll never forget the shock and betrayal that flickered across their faces. They implicitly trusted me to carry out a simple function, and I failed them miserably (in retrospect, I should have blamed the debacle on them).

Fortunately, mature emotions such as disappointment over adult shortcomings do not reside long in the hearts of children. With great alacrity, I capitalized on a more carnal sensation I knew would fully captivate their little souls: the fleshly pleasure of a soft, warm half-baked cookie. Remember what I said about bribing?

Now, if you’ve been paying attention, you are wondering why Karis asked why I always burn the cookies, if I had actually under-baked them. You see, the problem stems much deeper than that. She was confusedly referencing my habitual propensity to scorch the bean & rice dish I cook every few weeks. A simple recipe I make often, yet continue to botch, wafting a crisp, burnt aroma throughout the house from my basement lair of incineration.

My excuse for beggarly cooking skills? As a teenager, I was too busy reading War & Peace repeatedly to study a cookbook. So while I boast an intimate & extremely relevant knowledge of the chariots of Napolean’s army, I can’t even boil beans properly.

My mother often bemoans my paltry culinary skills – how will I ever get married if I can’t cook? Silly Mom. Her concerns reveal her ignorance about the ways of romance. Love must be tested. How can I be confident suitors aren’t pursuing me solely for my nominal good looks or lack of financial surplus unless I test their affection – in this case, through a burnt carcass they must ingest?

So the morals (or more aptly, lack of morals) of the story are: 1) Always bake with kids, because you can blame any mistakes on them, and 2) Read less Tolstoy and more cookbooks. Russian war stories are entertaining, but you can’t eat Napoleon.

Oh, gotta go. I smell burnt beans!

P.S. Never fear, Mommy! In all seriousness, I am making slow efforts to master the kitchen.  Just this week I whipped up a delectable batch of spaghetti, burn-free and completely edible! Now that is progress.

burnt cookie

Documentation of the carnage. Karis is bummed, but resigned. Titus is capitalizing on the situation to practice his sexy ‘Blue Steel’ look.

Why I Don’t Flirt

Actually, it’s more like why I can’t flirt.

I want to flirt, really I do.

Here’s what happens when one flirts (or so I assume): guys ask you out, which means you don’t have to drive to events alone, which means you don’t have to parallel park. Parallel parking is one of the greatest fears of my life. It was the one thing I flunked on my driver’s test, and every day of my life since. When driving with a friend, I will drop them off at the front door of our destination and then slink off alone to cavort with the curb in a slow and painful dance strewn with profuse cursing, scraped wheel rims and increasingly rising blood pressure.

Additionally, if you’re lucky and the fellow actually has a job, after driving you to the theater and parallel parking for you, he will shower you with free movie tickets and snacks.

I could go on and on.

But like I said, I can’t flirt (much to the dismay of my car).

Before you label me a wanna-be hussy, let’s clarify what I mean by flirting. It is not the fawning smile, the lingering gaze, the high-pitched giggle, the coy pat on the shoulder. Rather, it is simply … making eye contact. Smiling. Maybe even going up and talking to him (oh, the audacity). You know, being a nice human being.

When I am attracted to a fellow, I unfortunately do the exact opposite. Frantically, I direct my gaze anywhere he is not, talk to everyone but him, and do my best to give the impression that his very essence is repulsive to me. It’s as if I am allergic to attractive men. On the other hand, when I am not interested in someone, I am the friendliest girl they know. Is it any wonder there is a communication breakdown between the sexes?

The other day I determined this behavior was absurd and decided to unleash my charm in a safe test environment, a local Target store. Donning the luxurious new oven mitt I was purchasing (I calculated ‘flirting’ with an oven mitt on would reduce the risk of appearing slutty), I bravely made eye contact and smiled at the first guy I passed. It went splendidly! He smiled back, and I went on my merry way, smugly basking in my new-found courage.

About 10 minutes later, I was contentedly perusing the bedding section while playing puppet with my oven mitt and sending pictures of it to my friend (sad, but true), when I heard a masculine voice query, “What happened to your hand? Twirling around, I came face-to-face with the man I had just ‘flirted’ with, who apparently felt we established some special connection in our 2-second glance. Dang it! I knew this mitt was too sexy for my own good.

“Errrrr … I am wearing it in case I need to punch anyone,” I mumbled.

Not taking the hint, he inquired, “What are your plans for the summer?”

“Oh you know … just work,” was my response, even though my revised plan now revolves solely around avoiding him. I was getting a little nervous, as the bedding area was quite secluded, he was rather sketchy looking and this particular Target is not located in the most upscale area.

(Note to future flirting self: if there is a permanent parking spot reserved solely for the police that takes precedence even over handicap spots, find a different place to search for your soulmate.)

Persisting, he asked, “Wasn’t the weather today just wonderful?”

Well, today WAS wonderful, until you started talking to me.

“Oh, yes, it was just lovely, but I have to go now.”

As I started gliding off, he called out, “But when are we going to hang out??!”

Increasing my brisk pace, I yelled over my shoulder, “Oh, I don’t think we are going to hang out!” I would rather be doomed to socialize with just my oven mitt for the rest of eternity than ‘hang out’ with him.

Crestfallen, I paid for my mitt and trudged home. My grand experiment worked, but not how I intended, as my reticence to be friendly with men only increased. However, after some serious introspection, I deduced I avoid being friendly with men because 1) it doesn’t give them a chance to not reciprocate my attention 2) it is an easy way to avoid awkward situations (such as above) and 3) I am gravely afraid of coming across as too flirtatious. Based in fear and pride, it insulates me from potentially painful emotions, but who knows what wonderful friendships I could also be missing? Perhaps it is time to focus more on loving those around me, instead of coddling my pride.

Lesson learned: keep a heavily-padded mitt on hand (literally). It is a great conversation starter with desirable people of the opposite sex, and a handy (pun intended) weapon for the less enticing ones!